by Dianne R. McCann
Parents of school-age children now have more choices than ever when it comes to how they want their children educated. However, for parents interested in sending their kids to private school, one of the biggest considerations remains—how to pay for it?
If you’re among the parents asking this question, here’s some good news. According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) website, “While everyone will agree that private school education is not cheap, it doesn't have to break your budget. Affording a quality education does take some planning, and most families employ several strategies to keep the costs within reach.”
Typically, for private schools, you can find financial aid and tuition assistance in three forms: need-based financial aid, merit awards, and tuition payment plans and tuition loan programs.
The amount of aid you may be eligible for can vary greatly from school to school, often depending upon the size of the school’s endowment, its tuition costs, and its philosophy of awarding aid.
Therefore, NAIS counsels parents to talk directly with the school’s financial aid officer. This is the best source of information for that particular school, as that person “can explain the full range of options that [the school] offers and may be able to provide some information on the limited outside funding sources available.”
In addition, NAIS notes that “each school may offer different strategies and may have different policies. It is important to ask each school about the specifics of [its] various options and see how these options fit within your financial planning.”
For more information about finding financial aid, including loan and tuition payment plans, for your child’s private school education, visit the NAIS website, www.nais.org.
Families living in the Baltimore area also have local resources for scholarships to attend private school. Here’s a look at five organizations that offer private school scholarships.
The Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (B.E.S.T.) encourages, supports, and increases educational opportunities for talented African-American students from the Baltimore area who are also economically disadvantaged.
A very important advantage that B.E.S.T. offers goes beyond the money. The B.E.S.T. staff members are available to help families navigate what is often a complex application process. They offer to walk parents through the process step-by-step, either individually or in small groups.
According to its website, “At the heart of our mission, we work day-to-day to help academically talented African American children gain entry to 22 outstanding independent schools located in the greater Baltimore area.”
Specifically, the B.E.S.T. staff members engage in activities that include:
Providing program information;
Supporting admissions activities at member schools;
Providing two testing opportunities annually for students;
Providing a summer enrichment program for newly enrolled B.E.S.T. sixth, seventh, and eighth graders;
Spearheading financial aid weekend workshops;
Enabling motivated young learners to access study skills and test-taking workshops;
Providing one-on-one counseling for parents of academically talented children, including deadline reminders and help with completing documents; and
Providing ongoing program support.
The scholarship money raised by B.E.S.T. comes from its appeal to local corporations, foundations, and individuals. These funds are then supplied directly to its 22 member schools to support their financial aid budgets. A sampling of the member schools includes Boys’ Latin School, The Jemicy School, Notre Dame Preparatory School, and St. Paul’s School.
For a complete list of member schools as well as more information about B.E.S.T., visit its website, www.besttrust.org, call 410-752-2225, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust is located at 808 N. Charles St., Suite 200C, Baltimore, Md. 21201.
Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore
The two private schools that my children attend are top notch. My wife is a kidney transplant recipient—and our budget is far past borderline. The financial assistance we receive from Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore is a tremendous help for us as we attempt to make ends meet.—B.Z., CSFB parent.
So reads one note from a parent recipient of the Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore, posted on its website. Designed to help lower-income families send their children to the private and parochial schools of their choice, the Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore (CSF Baltimore) provides privately funded, partial scholarships for elementary-school children in grades kindergarten through eight. Scholarships are for Baltimore City residents only.
As of last spring, CSF Baltimore helped more than 490 students attend 70 private and parochial schools. Tuition among these schools average $5544 per year, and the average CSF scholarship is $1759.
Regarding the selection process for scholarships, CSF Baltimore policy states: “In keeping with our philosophy that all children, of every ability and aptitude, deserve a chance at a quality education, selection for our scholarships is made at random. Parents must put their names on the waiting list, and as funds become available we select families at random from the list. Selection is by family rather than by child so that all siblings enjoy the same opportunity.”
And, in order to be eligible for a place on the waiting list, Baltimore City residents first must comply with the following:
Children must be entering kindergarten through grade five for the school semester beginning in the fall.
Children entering grades one
through five must currently be enrolled in public school.